Monday, March 21, 2016

Alan E. Cober: "Students, read this message!"

"When asked what I do for a living, I say I am a drawer. What do I draw? Pictures!"

(Detail from the cover of "How" magazine, Nov/Dec 1985)

"What kind of pictures? Anything interesting or challenging or not so interesting and a few that are boring."


"Oh," they say "for whom?" For myself, for magazines and myself, galleries and myself, books and myself, museums, advertising, posters, etc. I am a drawer!" They say, "Oh, you mean you are a commercial artist." My answer is no, because I'm only that when I collect my checks from the mailbox, [just like] Picasso. At all other times I am just an artist."


"Since when is being paid for interpreting and executing a picture uniquely and personally with expression, feeling and craft, called commercial?"


"The dictionary defines --

Commercial - adj. prepared merely for sale. I do not think I prepare anything just for sale nor do most of my cohorts.

Fine Arts - those arts which seek expression through beautiful or significant modes."

"I think that fits today's best illustrator-artist. More and more fit this category and more and more schools are bringing the student back to the fundamentals, where he is taught the most important elements are thinking, drawing, design and colour."


"Each of these is individually important at some stage of every picture. Where he will find the very most important elements are opening your eyes to see and opening your ears to listen."


"Many of you commercial artists should return to school. Photography did not put you out of business - you did, when you closed your eyes and opened your lens and shutter speeds."

Alan E. Cober, from "The Award Winners Speak," Eleventh Annual of American Illustration, 1969 - 70


  1. Thanks for this post. Very inspiring words by an artist whose work still continues to inspire me.

  2. Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.